Can You Use Hot Chocolate Powder Instead Of Cocoa Powder?

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If you are into baking, you have very likely faced a common problem with chocolate recipes. In traditional cookbooks, they require cocoa powder. Now it’s safe to assume that hot chocolate powder is more common in most kitchens than cocoa. And chances are you’ve wondered can you use chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder at least once!

As an alternative to cocoa powder, you can use chocolate powder. In emergencies, the hot chocolate powder can save a chocolate-based recipe. Although, in professional set-ups, this is a very unlikely practice. This is something that a serious cook would never consider using as a substitute.

Before switching to hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder, it’s important to understand the difference. It goes without saying that the two ingredients are completely different. Dive right into the article below to know more about can you use chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder!

Difference Between Cocoa powder And Hot Chocolate powder 

While cocoa and chocolate powder do share some similarities, they differ from each other in so many ways. Scroll down below to know more!


As opposed to chocolate powder, cocoa powder is a raw ingredient. Cocoa is a natural product. On the other hand, the hot chocolate powder is factory-made. This, of course, has an impact on the final calculation.

Cocoa powder adds a rich flavor to desserts. It also has a distinct smell. When heated, hot chocolate powder produces a rich, chocolatey taste. However, hot chocolate does not have the natural bitterness and smell of natural chocolate.

Cocoa contains many naturally occurring chemicals. Like aldehyde, esters, lactone, pyrazine. This constitutes the chocolate flavor. The factory-made chocolate powder does not have these in sufficient amounts. Therefore, it lacks a natural flavor.

When you use Hot Chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder, try not to add much extra sugar. This is because most Hot Chocolate powder found in the market already contains sugar.


Cocoa contains phlobaphenes. Adding this component to pure cocoa powder gives it a deep, dark brown hue that makes it look like chocolate. However, along with a small amount of cocoa, the chocolate powder also contains dried milk, sugar, and other flavoring compounds. 

Cocoa powder gives the recipe a darker hue. Using hot chocolate powder would not give the same effect. Your cake or cookie would be much lighter in color. When you serve a cake in front of a group of people, appearance is important. An anemic-looking cake might offset the mood.

Nutrition And Health Risk

Cocoa powder comes directly from nature. It is crushed cocoa beans. That’s all there is. An ideal cocoa powder does not contain more than that. When you use cocoa powder, you know for sure you are not putting anything in your recipe that you are unaware of.

Another thing is flavonoids. Cocoa powder contains these nutrients. Flavonoids are effective antioxidants. They help get rid of all toxins from your body. Suppose a cake contains no sugar, no butter. Only vegetable oil, cocoa powder, flour, and eggs. That sounds like a healthy dessert. Although, it might taste a bit bland.

With chocolate powder the case is different. The chocolate powder contains refined sugar. It’s a  well-known fact that refined sugar is harmful to every system in your human body.

The problem arises from overusing hot chocolate. You know you were supposed to use cocoa. But only hot chocolate powder is at hand. You would want to make amends. Eventually ending up using a whole lot of hot chocolate powder. This would make your recipe unhealthy.

Sometimes, this might even cause a medical emergency. Suppose, you are baking for a diabetic patient. You used diabetic sugar instead of normal sugar. There was no cocoa in the kitchen. So, you used Hot Chocolate powder being unaware that it contained refined sugar. In a patient with sensitive sugar levels, this can cause dire consequences. 

Apart from that, hot chocolate powder contains preservatives. Plus artificial flavorings. These chemicals are not beneficial to the human body. This is another point to consider when using hot chocolate powder.

Using Cocoa Instead Of Chocolate Powder In Various Recipes

You can use hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder in many desserts. You’ll need to adjust them accordingly, though. Check out the recipes mentioned below~

Pudding And Mousse  

Chocolate mousse with strawberry

When making pudding, you can substitute hot chocolate for cocoa powder. Chocolate powder is ideal for puddings and mousse. It does a great job enhancing the flavor of the pudding all the while adding a tinge of color. 

A pudding or mousse is expected to be soft and silky. This is why hot chocolate powder fits well into the recipe. 

Using cocoa powder would give a strong taste to these desserts. There would be a hint of bitterness. Such qualities are undesirable in a mousse. Using Chocolate powder brings a milky chocolaty flavor. Minus the bitterness.

Chocolate Cake 

Cakes are kind of the opposite of mousses. They are more solid in texture. Cakes are much more dry and rough. They are expected to have a strong taste and aroma. Most recipes from older books require cocoa. Hot chocolate powder recipes are rare to non-existent in traditional cuisine.

Cocoa powder recipes usually combine vegetable oil. This combination makes a decent cake. The cake would have a deep dark color. The texture would be moist. Making the cake feel tender to touch. Cocoa powder cakes have a strong taste. Because no milk or butter dilutes the flavor. 

On the other hand, in chocolate powder recipes butter is used instead of vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature. Butter is solid. This results in a less tender and drier cake. It is still palatable, but a less desirable chocolate cake.

Response to temperature also varies. A chocolate cake made of cocoa and vegetable oil is refrigerator-friendly. You can serve it directly from the fridge. Vegetable oil doesn’t solidify in the cold. The cake remains tender. The taste is too strong to deter.

The same isn’t the case with chocolate powder cakes. Butter reacts to cold. The cake becomes drier than usual. The taste is bland when eaten directly from the fridge. You have to give the cake some time to warm up.

In summary, you can make a chocolate cake with hot chocolate powder. You can’t make an excellent chocolate cake without cocoa. You might use clarified butter instead of butter. Clarified has a higher smoke point. This can help with the tenderness issue.


They are not brownies if you haven’t used cocoa. Brownies should be tightly wound. These are cheaper than cakes. The flavor is strong and chocolaty. Cocoa ensures all those qualities. It is also the cause for the overwhelming aroma when you take the brownies out of the oven.

If you use hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder, they are fudgier. The brownies are firm. They have less chewiness. This happens mainly due to the butter. These are more like fudge cakes and less like brownies.

Cookies And Biscuits

Cocoa is like flour. It is a very dry ingredient. When you make a chocolate cookie using cocoa it is harder and dry. The flavor would be bitter-sweet. A strong presence of chocolate can be felt. It should have a nice and prominent aroma.

Cookies made from hot chocolate powder would be more like chocolate-flavored milk biscuits. It would be softer and sweeter. The cookie would be less dark than the one made with cocoa.

If you are using hot chocolate powder, why not make chocolate chip cookies? The focus would be on the chocolate chips. No one would notice much, whether you have used cocoa or hot chocolate powder.

Chef Rooney

I like to cook. It makes me happy, and I know it does the same for others. If you ever want to learn how to make a great dish, just ask!

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